The radio station WJLX in Jasper, Alabama, wasn’t expecting its 200-foot radio tower to go missing last week. Leaders didn’t even realize thieves could make off with something that big, according to The Guardian.
But when the radio station sent a landscaping crew to its site for an annual spring cleaning, workers discovered that the site was in disarray and contacted the radio station’s manager, per NBC News.
“They called me and said the tower was gone. And I said, ‘What do you mean, the tower is gone?’” said WJLX’s manager Brett Elmore to The Guardian.
Elmore shared with NBC News that the landscaping crew found wires in the ground where the radio tower once stood and signs that the adjacent building had been broken into.
It appeared that the thieves cut the tower’s wires and mysteriously moved the 200-foot structure, while also stealing the AM radio transmitter that was housed in the building, per The Guardian.
According to CNN, the radio tower had been standing in that spot since the 1950s. The Jasper Police Department shared with CNN that tampering with a broadcast facility is a federal offense and carries a heavy sentence.
WJLX won’t be able to air its shows until leaders are able to get another AM radio transmitter and tower, per The Guardian.
The Federal Communications Commission prohibits radio stations to only broadcast on an FM transmitter; they are required to have both FM and AM transmitters broadcasting simultaneously, per CNN.
Replacing the tower will cost up to $150,000, according to Elmore, a price that is out of budget for WJLX, according to The Guardian. He added that people have been calling him, wondering how they can help out and sharing their ideas of how the-200 foot tower could have been hauled away.
“I had a guy from Virginia call yesterday and say, ‘You know, I think a helicopter grabbed (the tower),’” Elmore shared with The Guardian.